There are many reasons that deploying a printer via Group Policy would fail. This article will cover some of those reasons, while also providing alternative methods of printer deployment.
One common problem is due to the Point and Print Restrictions policy not being configured correctly. This will commonly result in users not being able to download drivers from print servers. This setting can be configured under Computer Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > Printers. This should be configured in one of two ways:
- Disable the policy. This is the easiest and fastest method, but doesn't allow for granular control over which print servers can be connected to.
- Enable the policy. You will need to modify the following settings at a minimum:
- Set "When installing drivers for a new connection" to "Do not show warning or elevation prompt"
- Set "When updating drivers for an existing connection" to "Do not show warning or elevation prompt"
- Unless you want to restrict these settings to a particular set of print servers, uncheck "Users can only point and print to these servers" and "Users can only point and print to machines in their forest"
Another reason printers might not be deployed properly is if the linked OU does not match the policy type. If you are deploying a printer using User Group Policy Preferences, the linked OU should contain users that need to have the printer installed. If you are deploying a printer using Computer Group Policy Preferences, the linked OU should instead contain computers that need to have the printer installed. Linking a User GPP to an OU that only contains computers, or vice versa, will have no effect. When deploying a printer to an OS that is a different architecture than the print server (such as 32-bit Windows 7 connecting to a 64-bit Windows Server 2008 R2 print server), make sure the correct drivers are installed on the print server. Both the 32-bit and 64-bit drivers must have the exact same name for them to associate properly. Deploying a printer will fail if the appropriate driver for the printer can't be found.
Lastly, make sure there are no typos. It's a simple concept, but having even a single character off in the print server name, printer share name, etc. will cause the deployment to fail even if all of the settings are correct.
If you want to bypass the problems of deploying printers via group policy entirely, an alternative would be using a third-party utility such as PrinterLogic’s Printer Installer. Printer Installer has a simple web-based deployment console that eliminates the need to use GPO at all. Printer Installer is even able to go so far as to eliminate your print servers entirely and migrate to a centrally-managed local TCP/IP printer environment, making driver management much easier.
For a quick demo of how PrinterLogic can help you eliminate printer servers and the need for GPO, contact us here. We’d be happy to show you how it works, and get you started with a free trial.
Dustin is the Product Support Manager at PrinterLogic, where he leads a team dedicated to helping customers optimize their print environments. His 15-year career includes a network engineering background, with skills in desktop and server operating systems, systems design/analysis, VPNs, Active Directory, Exchange, and troubleshooting. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Computer Science from UCLA, and a Master's degree in IT Management.